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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

The Whale in Amsterdam, The Netherlands by Frits van Dongen, de Architekten Cie.

November 22nd, 2011 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Frits van Dongen, de Architekten Cie.

Borneo-Sporenburg, a former harbour area along the shores of the IJ near Amsterdam’s inner city is intended to resemble in its density the Jordaan, a lively Amsterdam inner city quarter. The developers, however, requested a suburban programme from the municipality. This was granted on the condition that the required density of 100 dwellings per hectare would be achieved. To achieve this urban concentration in a suburban programme, Adriaan Geuze of West 8 introduced a fresh typology: inspired by the surrounding water, he created a sea of low-rise buildings, given rhythm by the variation of blocks and open spaces.

Images Courtesy Jeroen Musch

  • Architect: Frits van Dongen, de Architekten Cie
  • Name of Project: The Whale
  • Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Client: Ontwikkelingsmaatschappij New Deal bv, Amsterdam
  • Program: 150 sociale huurwoningen/social housing, 64 vrije sector huurwoningen/private housing to rent, 1.100 m2 bedrijfsruimte/bsiness accomodation, 179 parkeerplaatsen/parking spaces
  • Photographer: Jeroen Musch, Mick Palarczyk, Rogier Maaskant and Rene de Wit Lucht

Images Courtesy Jeroen Musch

  • Project team: A. Mout, P. Puljiz, F. Veerman, R. Konijn, J. Molenaar, A. Moreno, W. Bartels
  • Landscape designer: Adriaan Geuze, West 8 Landscape architects bv, Rotterdam
  • Contractor: Heijmans Bouw, Almere Stad
  • Structural engineer: Pieters Bouwtechniek, Haarlem
  • Date of commission: 1995
  • Date of construction: 1998 – 2000
  • Gross surface: 35.800 m2
  • Volume: 100.900 m3

Images Courtesy Jeroen Musch

This rhythm recurs on a larger scale in the tapestry of land and water characterizing the whole area. The sea of low-rise buildings is interrupted by three enormous ‘meteorites’, both to throw into relief the low-rise landscape and to achieve the inner-city density. The inner city character is reflected in yet another way: the 3.5 m high ground floors of the low-rise buildings create a programmatic flexibility that allows for both living and working.

The Whale is one of the three meteorites that mark the area. Within the same footprint as a ‘Berlage block’ (50 x 100 m) in Amsterdam South, a programme twice as large has been realized. By elevating the building on two sides – the line of the roof corresponding to the movement of the sun – the lower floors receive sunlight coming in from under the actual building. Accordingly, light and space have free access into the heart of the building. The result is a redefinition of the closed block: the inner area transforms the traditionally private domain into an almost public city garden.

Images Courtesy Jeroen Musch

The elegant, elevated form conceals the enormous programme: 214 apartments with business areas underneath and an underground car park on a plot as large as a football field. As a consequence of its extraordinary design,

The Whale consistently affords different views of the environment from various positions generating at the same time an enormous diversity of housing types, in the lower and upper edges of the building in particular. Conservatories provide a wide view of Amsterdam’s inner city and across the expansive waters of the river IJ.

Images Courtesy Mick Palarczyk

Images Courtesy Rogier Maaskant

Images Courtesy Rogier Maaskant

Images Courtesy Rogier Maaskant

Images Courtesy Rene de Wit Lucht

Long cross section

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Category: Mixed use

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